Newsletter for U.S. Bishops Sponsored
by the USCCB Subcommittee on Lay Ministry
|This newsletter is developed by the USCCB Subcommittee on Lay Ministry. The purpose of this newsletter is to highlight lay ministry trends, resources, models, and other key information that may be helpful to the U.S. Bishops. Please forward suggestions and comments to:
NCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth
3211 4th Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194
USCCB Commission on Certification and Accreditation Approves Standards and Procedures for Certified Director of Music Ministries
The National Association of Pastoral Musicians announced recently that the USCCB/CCA has approved their standards and procedures for certification of Directors of Music Ministries. (NPM describes them as “professional music ministers – especially those who are full-time – whose primary income derives from church employment and have titles such as music director or music and liturgy director.”)
The Director of Music Ministries Division of NPM adopted the common competences for lay ecclesial ministry developed by the National Association for Lay Ministry, the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, and the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. Announcing the approval of the new standards, Dr. J. Michael McMahon, President of NPM, wrote:
“While pastoral music ministers need well-developed musical skills and thorough grounding in liturgy, they also need personal maturity, a healthy life of faith and prayer, and a theological background appropriate for pastoral ministry. Preparation for pastoral ministry in the Church requires far more than classroom instruction, calling for formation in all of a ministry’s dimensions – personal, spiritual, theological, pastoral, professional, liturgical and musical.”
New Resource for Lay Leadership
Edited by Zeni Fox, Advisor to the Subcommittee, and Regina Bechtle, SC, Called and Chosen: Toward a Spirituality for Lay Leaders contains essays by both editors and by Margaret Benefiel, Michael Downey, Elinor Ford, Doris Gottemoeller, RSM, Monika Hellwig, Dolores Leckey, Richard Liddy, H. Richard McCord, Brian McDermott, SJ, John Nelson, Sean Peters, CSJ, and Mary Daniel Turner, SNDdeN. The essays are grouped into The Person of the Leader, The Mission of the Church and Institutional Ministries, The Spiritual Life of Institutions, and The Role of the Spiritual Leader. Questions at the end of each chapter invite further reflection.
(Sheed and Ward, 1-800-462-6420, www.rowmanlittlefield.com)
Subcommittee Revises Draft after Consultations with Bishops
At meetings in Denver in May and Chicago in June, the Subcommittee decided on more revisions of the draft document, now titled Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry.
Before the May meeting, the Subcommittee had received responses from 70 bishops to a written consultation on the March ’05 draft. The clarity and helpfulness of the draft received an average of 4.2 of a possible 5.0 from the bishops and 4.1 of a possible 5.0 for its helpfulness in understanding, clarifying and supporting the role of lay ecclesial ministers.
The Subcommittee members, consultors, and advisors reviewed the suggestions and comments from the bishops, focusing particularly on the force of the document, the clarity of the definition, the recognition of the diversity among dioceses, the differences between inadequate, adequate and ideal formation and preparation, and next steps. Accepting the recommendation of the bishop respondents, the Subcommittee retained the section on the ministerial workplace and directed several revisions for a June ’05 draft.
At their meeting in Chicago on June 18, the Subcommittee reviewed the responses of 91 bishops to the panel presentations by Bishop Kicanas, Cardinal George, Archbishop Pilarczyk and Bishop Aymond. Those responses were clearly positive and the Subcommittee once again recommended several revisions in the draft and, pending approval by the Subcommittee and the Committee on the Laity, a seventh draft will be presented to the Administrative Committee at its September meeting.
August 29, 1934 - July 12, 2005
Bishop of Fort Worth
USCCB Subcommittee on Lay Ministry
May the angels lead him into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome him and take him to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.
From Our Tradition . . .
The Development of the Gifts of All the Baptized is Desirable and Advantageous
“Shortly after my installation, on 6th January 2001, Pope John Paul II issued his Apostolic Letter, At the Beginning of the New Millennium, in which he urged bishops, priests and people to undertake new pastoral initiatives based on the Gospel and on the living tradition of the Church. He urged bishops, in their dioceses, ‘with the help of all sectors of God’s people, confidently to plan the stages of the journey ahead.’
“It was with these words ringing in my ears that I called the Diocese to a spiritual and pastoral renewal in response to Our Lord’s invitation to ‘launch out into the deep.’ Many of you have been involved in the At Your Word, Lord programme, meeting in small communities throughout the Diocese. …
“It is clear from your responses that you are all aware of the vital role played by the priest in your parish communities, and the need to adjust now to the very real possibility of there being fewer priests in the years to come.
“I would like to highlight two things. Firstly, we must continue to pray and encourage priestly vocations in the parishes and communities of the Diocese; there is no reason to lose confidence in the Lord of the harvest who desires to send labourers into His harvest. Secondly, it is desirable and advantageous in itself that the Church encourage the development of the gifts of all the baptized. In other words, the reorganisation and development of the Diocese should not be undertaken just because there may be fewer priests in the years to come. The details of our diocesan plan, which I will publish before the end of the year or early in 2006 in the so-called “White Paper” will have to wait. But it is already clear that that plan will promote a more active and committed apostolate of lay people to assume new tasks and responsibilities in the mission of the Church at the same time as continuing actively to promote vocations to the priesthood, which is essential for the life of the Church. Both need a new emphasis, and are mutually complementary. Both will be the fruit of a Church newly geared to mission.”
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, Letter accompanying Graced by the Spirit-Planning Our Future Together: Green Paper- Response and Analysis, May 2005.
From Around the World. . .
Quebec Bishops Publish Reference Document on Lay Pastoral Associates
The bishops of Quebec at their Plenary Assembly on March 12, 2004 adopted a document on lay pastoral associates. Noting that the function of lay pastoral associates has been developing for several years in their dioceses, the document is intended to “make the language more uniform on this subject” and “set up somewhat similar operating modes.”
The first section states that the term pastoral associate “will indicate those who collaborate in the exercise of the pastoral responsibility in tasks of direction, animation or coordination by specific commission of the bishop.” It adds “It is advisable to reserve the expression ‘pastoral associate’ for the faithful laity and to designate the ministers ordained deacons, priests and bishops by their specific name, the term ‘pastor’ being reserved for these last two categories.”
The second section identifies the pastoral mandate as the “act by which the bishop, recognizing the suitability, the capacities and competencies of a faithful layperson, chooses the layperson to collaborate in the exercise of the pastoral responsibility and commissions that lay person.” The mandate is to be given in writing for a given duration and it “does not necessarily urge the bishop to assure employment.”
The third section deals with the contract of employment which “must obligatorily include the mention that the possession of a pastoral mandate is necessary for the validity of the contract and that the revocation or the non-renewal of the mandate automatically suspends the contract of employment.”
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors…
Episcopal Dioceses Sponsor Conferences to Encourage Youth of Color to Explore Ordination Paths
Since 1999, the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts, Ohio, and Los Angeles have sponsored a biennial weekend conference titled Am I Called for young people of color aged 18-28. The peer support that develops among the participants and the opportunities to meet people of color in ministry in a different context and under different models helps the young people in their process of discernment.
One of the participants at the 1999 conference who said the AIC conference was “the first time I ever had an opportunity to sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with a bishop” or to meet younger ministers, this year sent one of his own parishioners to the conference.
Episcopal News Service, July 11, 2005, www.episcopal church.org